, , ,

Candidates Offer Differing Points On Frac Sand Mining In State Senate Race

Vinehout, Pitmann Compete For 31st State Senate District Seat

Frac-sand mining facility
Carol Mitchell

In the race for western Wisconsin’s 31st state Senate District, frac sand mining is a top campaign issue with both candidates saying they support local control but differ on how it should be exercised.

The state’s 31st Senate District has some of the highest concentrations of permitted frac sand mines, processing plants and rail loading facilities. In Trempealeau County alone, 26 sites have been given the green light.

So, it’s no surprise that frac sand mining is a top issue in the race between the incumbent, Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, and Republican challenger Mel Pitmann. While both candidates agree that local control is key in regulating frac sand mines, Pitmann said that strict county regulations might be pitting local governments against each other.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“All of a sudden, the cities are annexing properties that are way outside their normal jurisdiction and are allowing the sand mining industry to move forward. So, I’m concerned about the cooperation between local units of government and how that’s occurring and why that’s occurring,” Pitmann said.

Vinehout, however, said the real threats to local control are attempts by the frac sand industry to get the state Legislature to take over all regulation of sand mines, making it harder for local residents to fight back. Vinehout strongly opposed two recent bills that would have done just that.

“There has to be very, very strong leadership from western Wisconsin or cities and counties will lose their ability to stop these mines or to put brakes on the practices that sometimes are OK and sometimes are very difficult for neighbors to live near,” she sai

Vinehout was elected to the state Senate by a mere 2,000 votes in 2006.